How Enonic uses ContentOps
A tale of content production in the 21st century and people taking their own medicine.
It certainly is no secret that we talk a little about ContentOps here at Enonic. We have even bragged about how you can use Content Studio to leverage your content operations. But now we’ll try a different spin, now we’re gonna tell you how we use the ContentOps principles ourselves in our daily content producing lives.
Buckle up and prepare, this is going to be a rough ride through all the nitty-gritty details of how Enonic uses ContentOps.
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Remind me: What are ContentOps?
In case you missed it and are confused: “ContentOps” is short for “content operations,” and is a content production principle integrating people, process, and technology, designed to fill the void between content strategy and content delivery.
Today, almost every organisation “wants in” on the content marketing game, thus launching ambitious marketing plans where content is a pivotal player.
At the same time the world of digital technology has exploded. In a long stretch from the early 90s to the end of the 00s, predominantly one channel was around for digital: the web. Today is an entirely different story, with the existence of mobile, wearables, digital signage, IoT, APIs, and an increased focus on headless CMS and the re-use of content in any channel. You might have heard about this in a relatively familiar term—omnichannel.
Left between the grand content strategy and the fragmented content delivery is the content production itself. It’s safe to say that these factors have put a serious strain on what content production is supposed to be.
Enter ContentOps—the principle designed to make content production attainable, repeatable, and scalable in today’s world. Or in other words: treating the “development” of content the same way as the development of code and digital solutions. Let’s see how we do this in practice.
First, a little context. Enonic decided to adopt an inbound marketing strategy in 2017, finally implementing it in 2018. Deciding to attract, convert, close, and delight leads and clients through our website Enonic.com—our chief focus was to produce engaging content for nurturing specific buyer personas during the long deliberation process it is to choose a digital platform.
Together with the inbound agency Avidly, we set up a rigid process for making quality content from start to finish and back again. We never settled for ad hoc tactics. We crafted a well-planned and well-executed editorial process—and later discovered that it was essentially fully compliant with the ContentOps principles rising in popularity. Lucky us!
Enonic’s editorial process
Content operations are all about integrating people, process, and technology in the making of quality content. How do we do this in Enonic?
In Enonic we have a small, dedicated team working with marketing and content. Being a natural extension of the company’s business goals, our inbound and ContentOps strategy makes the population of the specific roles organic.
In our case this means our CEO functions as the responsible editor, while our marketing manager (that is me) is the chief content creator. Often our content touches upon technologically advanced concepts, leading to certain IT colleagues assuming the role of content reviewer. The latter role is also filled by our inbound agency Avidly, who reviews content for clarity.
In Enonic we thus integrate the following roles with our editorial content production process. This is a flexible hierarchy, with some people fulfilling multiple roles, and some roles including several people:
- Content creator (texts, videos)
- Subject matter expert
- Senior stakeholder
On a daily basis, this division of labour manifests itself as follows: The content creator writes e.g. a blog post or a case study, or even edits a video, before sending a notification about the finished draft to the reviewers and eventual subject matter experts. The reviewers in turn go through the content, leaving comments or change suggestions for the content creator to implement.
When everyone’s happy, a thumb up is given and the content enters the queue in the publishing phase. In theory, a dedicated editor could be responsible for all publishing, but in Enonic’s case, the content creator acts as an editor too. The maintenance and republishing of content are treated by the different roles in a similar manner.
The roles are properly communicated and understood throughout the organisation and beyond. The order of actions is usually performed in a logical sequence, which leads us to our next part.
The ContentOps process in Enonic is heavily influenced by the inbound marketing method, but this does not necessarily have to be so for all organisations.
In any case, we start our content production process with the creation of a buyer persona. In inbound terminology this is “a semi-fictional personalisation of your ideal customer or target audience.” Before we start to produce content, we must know to whom we are communicating.
As a first step, we arranged several workshops where we brainstormed the attributes of our chosen persona, before conducting interviews and surveys. At last we gathered all the insights into a cohesive presentation of the persona, complete with name, picture, age, “biography,” likes, dislikes, influences, and so on. This is used for future reference when creating content.
Of course, you can have multiple personas in your organisation—in Enonic we currently have three. You can read more about creating a detailed buyer persona at HubSpot.
While a persona usually is a single-occurring instance in the cyclical process of content production, the content workshop is the first regular occurrence we happen upon. In Enonic we arrange these workshops biannually, in order to ensure that we always have both fresh and re-worked content in the pipeline for the next half year.
These workshops are fun, delightful, and interesting. Any topic or content idea the team members have—ranging from ludicrous unseriousness to super relevant industry insights—are thrown onto the whiteboard. It doesn’t hurt to have a bit of fun.
When a sufficient amount of titles and ideas are jotted down, we rank them in importance and relevance: What do we need to say immediately and what is more timeless?
After the content workshop, it’s time to put all the chaos into order. This is done by plotting all the information into a content calendar—a remarkably useful tool. Not only can a content calendar chronicle your entire publishing history, it also serves as a quick reference for search and a solid overview of what awaits in the upcoming months.
In our calendar, we include the publish date, content status ranging from “need keywords” to “published,” title, funnel (top, middle, or bottom), persona, briefing, and related premium content. The content calendar serves as your publishing guide and is applicable to any type of content.
Now everything is neatly lined up in your content calendar, ready to be published in the future. But something vital is missing—the actual contents of your brilliant and exciting titles! Many people fear the “writer’s block” when facing a blank piece of paper. What should you write? And how?
Most writers don’t start from scratch, and in Enonic we use an order form to make a disposition or “recipe” of the content. In our weekly order form sessions, the content creator meets with the editor/senior stakeholder to flesh out the content orders. Our order form template includes several rows, detailing stuff like theme, author, pain point, search terms, links, sources, pictures, and, of course, the main points of the content itself.
The latter is usually the most lengthy part of an order form, and in our case takes the shape of a series of keywords or short sentences with bullet points. Actually, right now this blog post is being written with the guidance of just such an order form. Thank you, bullet points, for not letting me forget anything important. ❤️
Although this phase is certainly the most time-consuming, it’s the one we have the least to say anything about in this blog post. Armed with a completed order form, the content creator can now embark upon what he or she loves the most: creating that deliciously great content we have been talking about.
Whether it is a blog post like this, a report, a biography, or a landing page—a podcast or a YouTube video, the same underlying principles and process remain.
We’ll not repeat ourselves too much, as we already mentioned this under “People.” When the content creator is happy with the content draft, a notification is sent, tagging any relevant reviewer, subject matter expert, and stakeholder. In Enonic’s case, the following people usually do the following actions:
- CEO: general structure, proofreading, and subject matter expertise
- External inbound consultant: general structure and proofreading
- Other colleagues: Subject matter expertise when needed
If everyone gives the green light, the content now has the status “ready” and is awaiting the future publishing date.
When the day finally arrives for publishing the given content, the process is chiefly managed through our Content Studio. All text, images, and metadata must be put in the right places, and the right dots must be connected with the marketing automation and social media tool HubSpot.
Publishing might be a somewhat mechanistic process, but it’s obviously of grave importance. No publishing, no content for the world to see!
Publishing power! Enonic Content Studio cheat sheet »
Content is fresh produce. It’s not something you can publish once and then throw away the key. The world of digital experiences is flooded with content, so “new” isn’t always the answer to your content strategy. That’s why we can maintain and republish old gold.
Every piece of content you produce and publish should be checked with regular intervals, ensuring that it’s not obsolete or irrelevant in an increasingly content-competitive domain which is the internet.
We perform this task in Enonic. In every biannual content workshop, we also identify what content should be re-examined, updated, and republished. The process is roughly the same as with new content, but much less demanding resource-wise. In this way we save both time and energy.
The final ingredient which brings people and process together is technology. As explicitly stated, ContentOps is all about integration, and just as we’ve seen people coming together in various functions in the content production process, now we’ll see what role technology is playing.
- Enonic XP: We use this tool to handle the content with a landing page editor, editorial workflows, issues management, user roles, image handling, marketing tools integration, and more
- Google Suite: This package handles our email and documents—like Docs for content drafts, Sheets for the content calendar, and Drive for miscellaneous asset management
- HubSpot: A marketing automation tool, used for forms relating to premium content, lead nurturing, user scoring, advanced workflows, and social media sharing
- Slack: An efficient communication tool for the team members
ContentOps: consistent, repeatable, and scalable
The main advantages of enacting ContentOps principles in Enonic is that they make our content production consistent, repeatable, and scalable.
- Consistency: Having the same, repeating cycle of content production—with people who know what their roles are and with a clear use of technological tools in different stages—helps our content to be consistent across any channel over time
- Repeatability: The defined roles, process, and technology makes it easy to repeat quality content production procedures in Enonic—regarding both the biannual cycle and even more urgent and impromptu tasks
- Scalability: Should Enonic grow as a company, or should our need for more delivery channels arise, we can scale the production process accordingly due to it’s inherently flexible pattern. The number of editors and content creators can e.g. scale up and down, and both the process and technology are applicable to small organisations as well as to large multinational corporations